As an Indonesian, I have heard stories about Papua and the indigenous people known as the Dani tribe. Since I was a child these stories never failed to amaze me and I told my self that I must visit this place.
My Journey begun in April 2009, after I was chosen to serve in Jayawijaya, with three other doctors. Jayawijaya is an administrative city in the heart of the Papuan Highlands. This place is also known as The Baliem Valley, which is famous internationally for its annual cultural festival. However, the locals have named this city Wamena. There is no road access to Wamena, the only way to reach this place is by air.
After an eight-hour flight from Jakarta to Jayapura, the capital city of Papua, we continued with another flight in a small airplane for an hour and finally landed in Wamena, tired but excited.
I spent a year working in Papua, but every day felt like I was on holiday. An amazing view of the mountains greeted me every morning. Driving through a river, due to a broken bridge, and crossing a land slid were daily activities needed to get to work. Climbing hills and trekking for hours to visit remote villages were part of my job. This place feed my hunger for adventure that I could not fulfil when I was still in medical school.
Unlike most parts of Indonesia, Wamena has a much colder climate because it is located at a high altitude. Therefore, prepare warm clothing and a warm sleeping bag if you plan to stay in the villages. Malaria is common in all regions of Papua, please consult your doctor for suitable preventative medicine one month before leaving your home country. You should also prepare some insect repellant for both mosquitos and pig flees.
What a privilege that I was able to work in this amazing place. Hopefully, one day I will have the chance to come back and serve people in this area again.